Weeds are a persistent problem in all gardens and there are a few ways that these can be controlled in your garden.
The first option is regular weeding which would involve digging out the longer rooted ones (e.g. dandelion) and hoeing which will chop of the tops of annual weeds and stop them from growing. This option does require the correct weather conditions. If the ground is too wet, you can damage the soil structure and it also creates a bit of mess. If the ground is too dry it can result in the soil moist from lower down being turned to the top which will then dry out and in turn reduces the amount of moisture for other plants to use.
There is the option to use chemical control which involves spraying the weeds with a weedkiller. This is probably the quickest and easiest way to weed but with there being more concerns over the environmental impact of herbicides a lot of people are trying to avoid this method. However, with some more persistent and stubborn weeds (e.g. ground elder) this can be the best way to keep these in control.
Weed control membrane is another option, this is great for large areas where maybe there are less plants and this can be put down and then covered with decorative stones or bark mulch. We general try to avoid this in flower beds as it has to be cut around plants which then leaves gaps which can allow for weeds to grow through. One other down side is that it has a life span, over time organic material will fall through the gravel or bark layer and will create an area perfect for weed growth and eventual weeds will start to germinate on top of the membrane and then it will need replacing.
Bark mulch is a more environmentally friendly option for weed control. The plus points to bark mulch are that as long as it is spread deep enough (ideally 5cm minimum) it will help control weeds and will also help to maintain the moisture in the soil. The main thing to remember with bark mulch is to keep it topped up each year. As it is a natural product over time the material at the bottom will rot and the depth of the bark will decrease so by regularly topping it up will allow it to continue to work. Another plus point to bark is that the layer rotten layer at bottom will help to add goodness to the soil.
Posted by Andrew Culverhouse